Small Co-op. Big and Passionate Plans.

With just seven members, Hop Tac Xa Nong Nghiep Chanh Day in Vietnam is probably one of the smallest Fairtrade cooperatives in the world! But just two months after becoming Fairtrade certified they have already sold all 20 tons of their export-quality passionfruit, and received around USD 2,000 in Fairtrade Premium. Xavier and Hung from the Asia producer services team went to visit them.

We start the day with a typical Vietnamese breakfast– a strong Robusta coffee and a bowl of Pho (noodle soup), in a street restaurant. Then we set off on the long drive to the cooperative. The farmers are based in Kien Duc, Dak Nong province, a remote mountainous area of Southern Vietnam bordering Cambodia, and one of the most disadvantaged regions in the country.

There are some large Fairtrade coffee cooperatives further North, but Hop Tac Xa Nong Nghiep Chanh Day is the first Fairtrade cooperative in Vietnam to sell passion fruits. They joined Fairtrade in June with the support of their exporter, V.U.A Biotech.

Now they are already planning how to use the first installment of Fairtrade Premium. Mrs Nguyen Thi Phuong Dong, treasurer of the cooperative and one of two female members, told us that a computer for their office and covering their operational costs are their top priorities. Later, they would like to buy land for other poor farmers and to invest in quality improvement training. They are also considering repairing the village road as some children in the community can’t attend school regularly during the rainy season, when the dirt roads get slippery.

 “The Fairtrade system protects us from losing money and against market instability” says Mrs. Nguyen. Prices for passion fruit vary a lot throughout the year, so this is a big plus. Farmers also now use protective equipment when using pesticides, in line with the Fairtrade Standards, and already feel the benefit to their health.

The cooperative is now looking for additional buyers for their second grade passion fruits. These could easily be sold and processed to make jams or fruit juice, for example. This would bring them additional income and certainly attract new members. Perhaps they won’t stay the smallest cooperative for long!

Tran Ban Hung is the Fairtrade Liaison Officer for Vietnam; Xavier Huchet is the Head of Producer Support & Relations for Asia at Fairtrade International.

Interested in purchasing Fairtrade passion fruit from Vietnam? Contact Xavier: x.huchet@fairtrade.net